Sanlando (Hoosier) Springs

The main pool within “The Springs” subdivision was named Hoosier Springs by the early settlers in the 1870s. The spring, about 4.5 miles west of Longwood, pours out gallons of clear, 72-degree water year-round. It is the southernmost of three springs: Sanlando, Palm, and Starbucks, which lie along the Little Wekiva River for about one-half mile away. Sanlando Springs is about 500 feet north of where State Road 434 crosses the Little Wekiva River.

The spring water empties into the coffee-colored Little Wekiva River, which runs along one edge of the pool. The tannins of the palmetto roots growing along the river’s edge give the river its brown color.

The nearby residents greatly appreciated the cool waters of the springs during the hot summer months. In the 1870s, a wagon trail led from Longwood to Apopka, passing by the springs. By 1887, the Florida Midland Railroad followed this same route and had a station within easy walking distance of the spring.

Life in Florida changed rapidly during the boom times of the 1920s. Subdivisions sprang up in Longwood and Altamonte Springs. In 1924, on the north side of his Altamonte subdivision, Mr. Frank Haithcox purchased a large parcel of land from Moses Overstreet, which included Hoosier Springs.

Mr. Haithcox developed the springs into an area attraction by enclosing one side of the pool with a cement walk, including steps leading down to the pool. He made the pool larger by damming up the springs, blocking the brown river water. He created a lawn area on the slope leading to the spring. Using a pumping station, he filled a swimming pool with fresh spring water daily.

In 1926, ground was broken for a 50-room hotel, but it was never built. The pool house contained a few slot machines, which were gone by 1930.
Also in the pool house was the ubiquitous Coca-Cola icebox containing Coke, Ne-High, and Orange Crush sodas.

The grounds were free to enter, and the only charges were for the bathhouse and pool. Renamed Sanlando Springs, it quickly gained recognition as the playground of Central Florida.

In 1926, Warren Street in Longwood was extended west to Sanlando Springs. It became known as Sanlando Springs Road. The extension followed right-of-way for the defunct Florida Midland R. R. and now State Road 434.

The Florida land boom broke, and the nation fell into the Great Depression of the 1930s. The spring property reverted from Haithcox to Moses Overstreet, who extensively upgraded the spring area and the building surrounding the pool.

Renamed Sanlando Springs Tropical Park, the Little Wekiva River was diverted around the spring area, creating a large sandy beach. The area between the sand and the diverted river was neatly landscaped with azaleas and shallow pools containing water lilies of various colors.

On the high ground above the spring, they constructed a terrazzo dance floor and placed speakers in the overhanging branches of a large oak tree. Music filled the air! Once again, the Park became immensely popular throughout Central Florida.

During the years of the Second World War, large buses brought GIs from area bases to the Park.

In 1950, Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Robinson bought the Park and continued to make improvements. In 1970, the Park closed, and the land was acquired by the gated Springs subdivision. The spring area is now only open to the public when the Orlando Symphony Orchestra gives the popular Springs Concert there as a fund-raiser.